New-born screening is a test that is performed on your baby when he/she is 1 or 2 days old. This test checks if your baby has any serious health conditions. These conditions are mostly treatable because they are diagnosed early. This screening includes a heart, blood, and hearing test.
There is a high possibility that a baby is born with a medical condition, but the signs of the condition do not show up in the early days. In such cases, new-born screening tests can detect the condition at a very early stage and treat it accordingly.
The types of the new-born test include:
- Blood test: The blood test is often referred to as the heel prick test. In this test, a blood sample is drawn from the baby by pricking his/her heel. The collected blood sample is placed on a special paper and sent for screening.
- Hearing test: In the hearing test, the doctor checks whether the ears of the new-born baby are properly working. The baby has to pass two different hearing tests. These tests are completely safe for the baby.
- Otoacoustic Emissions Test (OET)
This test is performed to determine whether or not the new-born baby’s ears are responding to normal sounds.
- Auditory Brain Stem Response (ABR)
This test is used to check the brain’s response to sound and the nerves carrying the sound to the brain. This test involves inserting tiny earphones in the baby’s ear and then playing a sound.
- Heart screening: In this test, the oxygen level in a baby’s blood is tested, which helps in identifying new-born babies who are born with Critical Congenital Heart Disease, which is also referred to as CCHD. For this test, the baby has to spend 24 hours in the hospital using a pulse oximeter machine.
Different types of health conditions that can be diagnosed with the new-born screening test
- Phenylketonuria: This is a metabolic disorder in which babies tend to lack an enzyme that is needed in order to process Phenylalanine. This is an important process for the healthy and normal growth of a child. The new-born screening test helps in detecting underproduction or excess production of Phenylalanine in a child’s body and can be treated accordingly.
- Sickle cell disease: Due to this disease, the red blood cells in the body become stiff, fragile, and sticky. In such a condition, the blood cells cannot freely move in the bloodstream, which can result in damaged organs. This exposes the baby to a serious infection. Most of the time, this disease is transferred to the baby through the genes of its parents. This condition can be detected during the new-born screening test and can be treated accordingly by doctors.
- Biotinidase deficiency: Biotinidase, an enzyme that is responsible for recycling biotin, is responsible for converting food into energy. A deficiency of this enzyme can be fatal as it would result in hearing loss, a weak immune system, seizures, and in some cases, even death. To prevent such fatal conditions in the future, babies who have this deficiency can be provided with extra biotin.
- Maple Syrup Urine Disease: This disease, also referred to as MSUD, causes the urine of a person to smell like maple syrup. This is caused as a result of excess amino acids in the body. Early detection of this disease can prevent physical or intellectual disability in a child.
- Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia: CAH is a genetic disorder that can adversely affect the genital development in a child. This condition can eventually cause death from the excess loss of salt. This disorder can be treated by supplying the body with the hormones that are missing.
- MCAD deficiency: This deficiency can result in low blood sugar levels in the body of a baby. This is because the enzyme named MCAD is responsible for breaking down the fatty acids in our body. Such a deficiency can be treated by providing babies with nutritious food at regular intervals.
- Congenital Hypothyroidism: The lack of thyroid hormone in the body results in congenital hypothyroidism. This deficiency can cause slow development of the child’s brain. Such a condition can be treated by providing proper doses of thyroid hormone to the baby.
- Galactosemia: The absence of the enzyme that converts galactose into glucose results in this condition. To treat this condition, the consumption of any kind of dairy product must be avoided.
The newborn baby test provides numerous benefits. It saves your baby from various life-threatening diseases. This is possible because various health conditions are diagnosed by a single screening just after birth. It ensures that your baby is safe from any disorder as well as it saves you from a lifelong struggle.
There are chances that your baby can develop a medical complication even if there is no family history of diseases. Therefore, you should consider getting a newborn screening test for your baby because it is better to take precautions when there is still time rather than regretting when the problem becomes serious.
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